Home>>read Wanted free online


By:Shelley Shepard Gray

“It is.” Katie had been helping can since she was old enough to scrub vegetables. She found it awfully strange that Anna had reached adulthood hardly knowing how to take care of a house and home. “Canning is a most agreeable chore, to be sure.”

Anna held up a finger. “Not for me. Look at my fingers.” She held a finger up for inspection while blowing on it so hard the paper behind her fluttered on the counter. “Do you see the blisters? They really hurt. I got burned when the boiling jam got the best of me.”

Katie had nothing to say to that. The blisters would teach her to be more careful in the future. But she didn’t have to say a single word because Henry entered the roomy kitchen and made a beeline for Anna.

He frowned as soon as he noticed her pained expression. “Anna, you hurt yourself?”

Just like a child, she held up a finger. “It’s nothing. Merely a blister.”

“It looks terribly painful, though.”

Anna nodded. “It is.”

To Katie’s chagrin, her older brother carefully pressed Anna’s fingers to his lips before leading her to the sink. And Anna, why she was letting him lead her around! As Katie watched her brother coddle her best friend, she could barely hold her patience. Anna had suffered a tiny burn, not a disastrous accident! Oh, she had much to learn. No self-respecting Amish woman would fuss over a burn so much.

She was just about to mention that when she realized neither Henry nor Anna would notice if she spoke at all. They were standing in front of the sink, cool water running, lost in each other’s eyes.

Suddenly, it was too warm to be there with them. Too confining. Too much.

“I’m going to check on Roman,” she said, anxious to see the new puppy.

Neither looked her way.

Frustrated, Katie ran out to the pen that Henry had made for the puppy. He wiggled with delight when he saw her and yipped. She opened the gate, freed him, then sat on the ground as he jumped and played all around her. But to her surprise, even the bundle of black-and-white fur didn’t lift her spirits.

No, he only reminded her that she had no special person of her own. And, unfortunately, that she had once had someone who had cared for her very much. He’d cared for her and she’d pushed him away.

Her mother, who’d been out feeding the goats, slowly approached. “I do believe this is the first time I’ve not seen you laugh and giggle at this puppy’s antics.”

Her mother made her sound awfully young. “I need more than just puppies, Mamm. I am older now, remember?”

“Ach, Katie, you are surely havin’ a time of it, aren’t you now?”

Katie scrambled to her feet and followed her mother back to the goats’ pen. “I’m all right.”

“Come now, I saw you running out here. What is wrong?”

“I don’t know.” How could she ever put into words everything she was thinking? She could never admit to her mother all the selfish and confusing thoughts that were brewing inside of her.

Her mother nodded to Katie’s hand. “Come now, something’s wrong. Look what you are doing! We both know you would never pet Gertie without a reason.”

That was unfortunately true. Oh, how she’d always hated those ornery goats. She had ever since they’d gotten loose one fine spring day and found her first Log Cabin quilt on the line. In a matter of minutes, Billie and Gertie had chewed on that quilt, making a mess of years of careful hard work.

Because her mother was patiently waiting for an answer, Katie gave her one. “It’s nothing. Anna and Henry looked like they needed a moment or two of privacy.”

“I suppose a courting couple needs a moment or two from time to time.” Looking toward the house, she wrinkled her brow. “I thought you were working on jam this morning. Did you already fill the jars?”

“No. We had to take a break when Anna burned her fingers.” Unable to stop the flow of words any longer, Katie blurted, “The way she carried on, you would think her finger was on fire. And of course, it happened just when Henry was coming in for some lemonade. The moment he saw her he rushed over and put her fingers under the water.” Katie didn’t even feel like mentioning how Henry had kissed Anna’s fingers, too.

“That was good thinkin’.”

“But that isn’t the point! Anna could’ve tended to a blister by herself. She didn’t need to act so helpless around my brother.”


Katie ignored her mother’s smile and continued. “As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t even have been burned if she would have listened to me and been more careful.” Thinking again to how long it was taking to can preserves, Katie felt her temper explode. “Anna doesn’t listen, Mamm! I’ve told her time and again to only fill the jars two-thirds of the way full, but she always ignores my suggestions.”